Interesting story of a starship crew that lands on a desert planet to find out what happened to an earlier ship that disappeared there. The aliens in this one are truly alien. It’s a good SF-mystery-adventure novel about coming up against something that can’t be understood.
The Invincible lands on the desert planet Regis III. They’re looking for evidence of what happened to the Condor which disappeared there. While searching they find what look like cities but really aren’t. There are some fish but that’s about it for lifeforms, unless you count the mysterious metallic insects. Finally they run across their sister ship.
Inside it looks like the crew went insane and destroyed everything they could get their hands on. There are some skeletons and some bodies including one that is frozen. It’s thought he could be used as a corpse-spy to find out what happened. That just deepens the mystery.
The theroy is put forth that the planet was once occupied by a race fleeing from a nova. They had a large group of robots with them. Whoever the aliens were they’re all gone. Things start to happen as a large cloud controlled by an inorganixc intelligence that may have been created as a result of a war among the robots appears.
The cloud puts out an electrical impulse that erases the memories of the crew members hit by it. The surviving crew realizes that the cloud can’t be defeated. It can split itself into smaller clouds. Their super weapon known as Cyclops can’t make a dent. One crew member goes out to find four missing men. That is a riveting read as the one man search gets underway.
The element that however the cloud is being controlled no communication is possible since it’s not intelligence as we know it. Another interesting book from Lem.